Tim Cahill was back to his best for the Socceroos on Tuesday night. Photo: Getty Images
A brooding Tim Cahill turned his frown upside down against Japan and enjoyed a hug with coach Holger Osieck to boot.
Upset at being written off as no longer an automatic choice for the Socceroos after playing in just one of Australia's previous seven matches, Cahill made the most of his starting chance against the Blue Samurai on Tuesday night.
He teamed superbly with Alex Brosque up front in the entertaining and controversial 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium after being forced to watch for 90 minutes as an unused substitute in Saturday's scoreless stalemate in Oman.
Cahill showed his lingering frustrations in camp and verbally lashed critics before the Japan clash and again on the field immediately after the final whistle.
But the 32-year-old then stressed he'd been ''buzzed'' to just be in the squad, and denied he'd been fired up to send a message to Osieck and silence doubters.
''No, because as a footballer you have to be a team player,'' the Everton star said. ''I play in a big league under one of the best managers in the world and you have to learn to be mature and be a squad player, a team player.
''Tonight it was my turn to play and you have to do your job.
''I did that and made the manager very happy and we shake hands and have a hug and I go on holidays. The manager doesn't have to explain. The three words I always say to the boss is 'I support you', regardless of decisions.''
While he was among Australia's best players with Brosque and central defender Sasa Ognenovski on a patchy surface, Cahill, interestingly, gained few public plaudits from Osieck.
Asked about Cahill's performance, the German was instead effusive in his praise of the maturing Japan-based Brosque. ''They were efficient up front,'' Osieck said. ''I don't like to single players out, but what Brosque brought to the field was exceptional.''
Luke Wilkshire's 70th-minute equaliser ensured the 10-man Socceroos took a point from their second group B encounter to be five points behind table-toppers Japan (7), who have played one extra game. Fellow group B rivals Iraq and Oman are level with Australia on two points after also playing out a 1-1 draw in Doha yesterday while Jordan sit at the bottom of the table on one point.
The hard-running Brosque, who went inches from giving Australia a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute, is looking at home in the international arena to be Osieck's preferred man ahead of Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell and Archie Thompson.
''Definitely the last couple of times I've been involved with the team I've felt a lot more comfortable,'' Brosque said. ''The more game time I get definitely helps.''
■ AFTER their fans fought outside the National Stadium, Poland and Russia drew 1-1 in an emotionally charged match between two fierce rivals at the Euro 2012 tournament yesterday.
Police said 15 people were injured and more than 100 detained in violent clashes in Warsaw as Russian supporters marched to the stadium. It was a display of patriotism that angered Poles mindful of the occupations their nation has witnessed at the hands of Russia.
Alan Dzagoev gave Russia a 37th-minute lead with a headed goal that would have put the team through to the quarter-finals. But Jakub Blaszczykowski lifted the roof with an equaliser 20 minutes later for the co-hosts, leaving group A wide open with one round of matches remaining.
Earlier, the Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1 to revive their chances of advancing after an opening-day 4-1 loss to Russia. Greece, who won the tournament in 2004, slipped to the bottom of the group on one point and need to beat the Russians in their last game to go through. AAP